DANVILLE – Family and friends in central Illinois are mourning the loss of Danville native Army Spc. Francis M. Trussel Jr., who was killed in Iraq on Saturday.
Mr. Trussel died in Tahrir, Iraq, from injuries he suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near him, according to the Department of Defense. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas.
Mr. Trussel was born in Danville, but his residence was in Lincoln, where his wife and two young children live.
He graduated in 2003 from DeLand-Weldon High School, west of Champaign-Urbana, and attended Lincoln College in Lincoln for a short time.
But his uncle, Don Hutson Sr. of Danville, said Mr. Trussel intended to make the Army his career. Hutson served in the Army, too, during the Vietnam War, from 1962 to 1965, and so did some of Mr. Trussel's other uncles and a cousin.
Hutson said there's a tradition of military service in the family, and his nephew just wanted to make a better life for himself and his children when he entered the service.
"He gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life. Whether the war is right or wrong, he gave it," said Hutson, who said he really hoped his nephew wouldn't go to Iraq.
He said he feared for his nephew's safety there.
"It's too dangerous," Hutson said.
But Mr. Trussel wanted to serve his country, he added.
Mr. Trussel had overcome some tragedies in his young life.
Hutson said Mr. Trussel's mother, Joyce, died when he was 2 years old, and his sister was hit by a vehicle and killed as a child.
After his mother's death, Mr. Trussel was raised for a while by his grandmother, Hutson said, and later he entered the foster care system.
Hutson said he highly respects his nephew, not only as a nephew but as a soldier.
Mr. Trussel would have turned 22 years old next month, said Hutson, adding that his death has been very difficult for the family.
"He was a dedicated father and husband and wanted to serve his country and do better for his family," he said. "He was a brave young man who gave his life for his country and what he believed in."